What Others Are Saying About the Book (and the Idea)
(Click on the link to access the full review/comment.)
Professor Frances E. Chapman, Book Review, Merle H. Weiner, A Parent-Partner Status for American Family Law (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 30 Can. J. Fam. L. 293 (2017). "Although many American legal concepts are not easily translated into a Canadian perspective, this is an idea worth discussion.... While all of the research and statistics in this text are American, there is relevant information to ponder for a Canadian audience. Should we reconsider our definitions of family? Should we ascribe additional legal relationships to those who may choose to enter into a parental relationship with each other?.... Weiner ends her book where all criticisms must lead, noting that it is all 'subject to challenge' whether 'a status would be a good way to foster socially desirable norms, that society could agree on a sufficient number of appropriate obligations to constitute a status, that the status would affect people's behavior, and that the status would do more good than harm.' Although there are so many more unanswered questions, this is a thoroughly researched tome and Weiner is as critical of herself as any critic can be. A Parent-Partner Status for American Family Law is a real achievement, thoughtfully put together, and very entertaining for the pop culture fanatics among us."
Professor Peggy Cooper Davis (NYU), Challenge and Tradition, 19 N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Pol'y 563 (2016). "Merle Weiner has initiated what may become a groundbreaking conversation about the sharing of parental obligations and rights. In an important new book, she has proposed that when the biological or legal parents of a child are not or are no longer married, their status as co-parents should be formalized as a legally recognized relationship--somewhat like marriage or civil union--with some terms that are mandatory and some that are open for negotiation between the parties. There are reasons to welcome such a proposal."
Recent Publications, 129 Harvard Law Review 2298 (June 16, 2016). "...Professor Merle Weiner makes the case for the creation of new parent-to-parent legal responsibilities — duties of each parent to the other, in addition to those duties both parents already have to their child. Weiner pitches this 'parent-partner status' as a way to improve family and societal outcomes — using the law to encourage thoughtful and lasting co-parenting relationships — at a time when many couples are unmarried or divorced....This work presents a thorough discussion of shortcomings in the law’s current treatment of parenting relationships, potential positive outcomes for which the law should aim, and a host of ways the legal system could get us there."
Professor Laura VanderDrift (Syracuse, psychology), Book Review, Research Relationship News, May 2016 "For many relationship scientists, 'A Parent-Partner Status for American Family Law' by Merle Weiner may have slipped under the radar. After all, it is not technically a book about relationship research, but instead about the legal obligations of parenthood. Missing this book, however, would be a shame. It is a thought-provoking tome detailing a proposed new legal status that would govern the relationship between two adults who have a child in common (i.e., the 'Parent Partner status'). Weiner proposes this as a book to spark conversation about this topic, and it is easy to picture how it will do just that. "
Dr. Greg Forster (Trinity Int'l Univ.), Parent "Partners" by Law, Feb. 8, 2016. "No matter how things go, we are going to need new legal arrangements surrounding marriage and family. That’s nothing new; marriage and family law have varied considerably over the past two thousand years.... [T]he alternative, refusing to create any new legal tools to deal with new cultural situations, will probably be worse in that regard."
Professor Richard Banks (Stanford), A Bold and Brave Proposal, Nov. 2, 2016 The book is “a brave and insightful effort to address a challenging issue, and to fill an important gap in American law and policy with respect to families.” One of its “virtues” is “not that it conclusively resolves the issues it addresses, so much as that it frames an inquiry in which others should join.”
Professor Clare Huntington (Fordham), The Limits of Relationship Work, Oct. 26, 2015 The book “is a tremendously important contribution to the debate about how to strengthen families and improve outcomes for children. …[T]he book is a tour de force. Weiner reviews voluminous literature from multiple disciplines, marshals strong evidence in favor of her proposal, and anticipates many criticisms. I salute her remarkable book, which will keep us talking for years to come.”
Dr. Isabel Sawhill (Senior Fellow, Brookings): “The law needs to focus less on marriage and more on shared responsibilities for children. Merle Weiner’s new book does exactly that and is a most welcome and creative addition to the discussion.”
Dr. John M. Gottman (The Gottman Institute): “In today's rapidly changing world of families [the book] helps us recognize that research shows unequivocally the bond between parents is very important to the welfare of our children. The book is an important contribution to making that knowledge a part of family law.”
Dr. Don Gordon (Center for Divorce Education): “These ideas must be tried, because, as the author notes, the current system of family does nothing positive for the parents' relationship. As a society we must do what we can to help parents cooperate in raising their children. Our continued failure to do this has been having horrendous effects on children developing into healthy, happy, productive adults….The legal considerations are interwoven throughout, and make the proposals for substantial change in the family law system more practical and wise.”